Week in Review – Vol. 34 No. 15

LEAKING INFO

After leaks in one of the chambers of the new gate of the expansion project of the Panama Canal were found, engineers of GUPC, say that its designer, Montgomery Watson Harza, “is still assessing the cause of the problem and has not yet submitted a report to the Panama Canal Authority”. At least, this is the information that was released by the Panama Canal administrator, Jorge Luis Quijano.

INSIDE TRADING

“The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) is full of officials linked to law firms that benefit from ship registries,” said Luis Fruto, treasurer of the Panamanian Association of Merchant Marine Officers (APOM). The unionist referred, in particular, to the Deputy Administrator Agustin Alejandro Moreno and the Secretary General of the institution, Tomas Avila.

READY FOR PORT

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has recovered 96% of the areas occupied by hangars, houses and buildings on estate 196 273 in Diablo, Ancon, where it plans to build the container port of Corozal. However, even the bill remains stalled in the National Assembly to equalize the tax benefits of the new port with the rest of the terminals already operating in the country.

MYSTERY CARGO

At the checkpoint of San Isidro, in Paso Canoas, a populated border between Panama and Costa Rica, the Panamanian Customs authorities seized a card cloning machine that had been sent as instructed by the shuttle service Ticabus. Preliminary reports indicate that the equipment had as its origin Costa Rica and had no paper documents accompanying it.

BIG REGISTRY

Panama has been known in recent years as one of the largest ship registries of the world with more than 8,000 registered ships, which brings in revenue of about $150 million a year, although at times this title has cost millions more. Between January and March 2014, Panama totaled 1,286 new records to its credit of ships flagged, which despite this is representing a decrease of 13.2% compared to 2014, when it was 1,482 ships, which ranks as one of the biggest ship registries.

VITAL PARK

Located on the banks of the Panama Canal is a park that covers the provinces of Panama and Colon with 22,104 hectares and is the backbone of the Panama Canal watershed. It also houses great diversity of fauna, about 688 species: 113 mammals, 75 reptiles, 66 amphibians, 34 fish and 402 birds. There are also on-site 1,300 varieties of plants, whose fruit feeds birds and mammals.

LOGISTICS STUDY

A work table on which the logistics operators participated was conducted by the Business Logistics Council (COEL) in order to examine and find solutions to address the major obstacles to the development of the logistics industry for exports and added values. COEL president, Severo Sousa said that the work is a move towards a country with an organized and competitive logistics industry.

METRO LINE 2

The construction of Metro Line 2 will begin later this month, after the Comptroller endorse the contract for this project. Roberto Roy, president of Metro Panama, SA, explained that after this decision the order to proceed will be given next week to a Consortium formed by the construction company Norberto Odebrecht and Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC) to start field work.

GROWING SHIELD

The National Bar Association (CNA) and the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE) asked president Juan Carlos Varela to veto bill 214, which tightened the “shield law” covering the President of the Republic, the Supreme Court judges and the deputies in any criminal proceedings. The lawyers warned that the project 214 is a clear violation of constitutional principles, recommending its veto to prevent future claims of unconstitutionality if it becomes law. Voices are growing louder calling for the president to veto the bill on the grounds that it not only reinforces the shield of the deputies, but also includes the Supreme Court judges and the president himself.

WAVERING JUDGE

Hernán De Leon, a judge of the Supreme Court was forwarded the file from the Superintendence of Securities (VPS) to investigate former president Ricardo Martinelli for alleged irregularities in the accounts of the brokerage firm Financial Pacific. Some lawyers claim that a reporting judge of a case should be prompt in drafting a decision to advance the process and not allow it to stagnate. The full Supreme Court should refrain from investigating Martinelli for alleged financial offenses against Financial Pacific is the proposal of De Leon in a draft ruling to resolve the admission of the file sent by the Superintendence in which it asked the court to investigate whether Martinelli committed financial crimes.

COMMISSIONS

The Italian judiciary has in its possession copies of invoices issued by the Panamanian society Agafia Corp., according to prosecutors, which would have been used as a vehicle to pay “kickbacks” for $25 million in contracts entered into by Panama with Finmeccanica in 2010. The first invoices found by prosecutors added up to more than EUR 2 million (about $3 million) and were in the concept of “commissions”, just at the time that the Panamanian government made payments to the Italian conglomerate.

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